Arriving at the often difficult decision that a separation between a married couple should be formalised and there should be a divorce, can be a daunting prospect.
The emotional, legal, and practical aspects of severing the ties between two people can be overwhelming.
The importance of receiving timely, tailored legal advice at the outset cannot be overstated. A solicitor’s role is to advise and represent on the legal aspects of the divorce, finances, and arrangements for children where relevant.
It is also often appropriate and necessary for a client to be referred to other qualified professionals during the course of the process depending on their particular needs and circumstances.
One of the key elements requiring specialist advice is that of appropriate financial arrangements, both in advance of and during divorce (and related) proceedings.
In achieving and subsequently implementing a fair and reasonable outcome, independent financial as well as legal advice is prudent, particularly where the assets are of substantial value or complexity.
Financial planning at the outset
When deciding on legal representation there are many points to consider.
While a particular solicitor’s approach may have achieved a result for one client, it does not necessarily follow that this will work for another. Ultimately it is a personal decision and one which must be arrived at carefully.
A further important point to consider is how much legal representation may cost and how it will be funded.
The financial implications of divorce and the cost should not be underestimated, and can be a significant factor in considering the appropriate way forward.
This is a conversation to have early on with a solicitor, to ensure a transparent and reasonable cost estimate is being provided.
An independent financial adviser can assist in providing guidance or advice on matters a solicitor cannot. For example, options on financing legal fees.
Financial planning for legal fees and other related costs may be a helpful exercise early on in ensuring both spouses are equally ‘armed’ in terms of legal advice and representation, there is symmetry in proceedings, and fair access to justice is achievable.
For example, an increasingly popular option is a litigation or matrimonial finance loan. For the less financially dominant individual, it may allow them to choose the most suitable lawyer for their situation without the barrier of affordability.
There may also be occasions where it might make sense for the financially strong individual, where they may prefer to use a matrimonial finance loan, rather than withdraw funds from investments or business activities.
There are various options for financing legal fees which can be discussed with an independent financial adviser in advance of, or in parallel with, formally instructing a solicitor.
Financial orders: the basics
Obtaining a divorce (Decree Absolute) formalises the end of the marriage.